What’s Politikoffee? And why it matters?

As part of my series of ‘Cambodian bloggers on blogging,’ I had a conversation with 26-year-old Ou Ritthy, who has been regarded by Cambodia’s English-language papers as one of the nation’s political bloggers. This is an unedited email interview I recently had with Ritthy, who runs a regular talk, Politikoffee, about Cambodian politics among his circles, independent analysts and Cambodia experts.

For Politikoffee’s Group on Facebook, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/253063081504738/

Tharum: When did you start Politikoffee?
Politikoffee was created in late July 2011.

Why Politikoffee?
Having learnt that most of Cambodian youths have spent their time for entertainment, consuming alcohols and paying little attention on sociopolitical situation, the matter of life and death of a nation, Politikoffee was established on July 2011. Politikoffee is a group of young enthusiastic and tech-savvy Cambodians who love discussing socioeconomic, political and democratization situations in Cambodian and region.

Poilitikoffee aims at cultivating “Liberal Democracy” in Cambodia through raising and sharing sociopolitical awareness and promoting culture of discussion and challenge among youths in Cambodia, based on principles of national interest, solidarity and fraternity. Cambodian youths should spend their free time on weekend to come to Politkoffee forum to share and learn with and from each other through discussion, debate and challenge concerning current socioeconomic and political issues of their country.

So far this emerging young generation of Cambodia has energetically discussed and shared information and knowledge every weekend. Having informed and learnt from each other, these youths share and spread political and electoral information like virus on social media especially facebook and twitter. They have done excellent job during National Assembly election 2013; they have become active agents of change and future leaders of Cambodia.

How to keep this conversation about politics over coffee going week after week?
Every Saturday we have either group discussion or media-darling speaker to present and then discuss among all members. We discuss, analyze and predict likely scenarios of political situations. When domestic sociopolitical issue is relatively stable, we discuss ASEAN and world affairs in stead.

On young Cambodians, do you speak out openly? Why?
We do speak our mind openly as the fact that Politikoffee forum is very informally organized by peers group who get to know each well. Therefore everything we say is outspoken, independent, open-minded, amiable and responsible yet challenging and thought-provoking.

How do you want this Politikoffee to play a role in Cambodian politics?
I want to see Politkoffee play vital role in cultivating a new political culture in Cambodia especially among Cambodian youths by changing from perceiving politics as a threat to individuals’ lives to seeing politics as one of the most significant parts of life and future of individuals and nation.

To achieve this, we want to have our own coffee shop named Politikoffee Shop where politics, democracy and coffee lovers can meet up and discuss current political issues. Basically, Politikoffee Shop is designed to function as a one-stop service to provide Cambodian people and foreigners who come to visit, work or live in Cambodia with complete up-to-date socioeconomic, political, electoral, social media and youth situations in Cambodia by just spending one hour discussing and drinking a cup of coffee.

Friends, don’t mind coming to Politikoffee Shop for an hour to drink a cup of coffee and get to know everything about current Cambodian politics and other related issues?